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Previously on TJ13:
Kimi Raikkonen tells critics – Leave me alone, I know what I’m doing
Following Monday’s news, here on TJ13, that seemingly Kimi Raikkonen was oblivious to the fact that he had to resolve his issues quickly – comes word from the Iceman that everything is in hand.
After Mika Hakkinen suggested his fellow Finn was trailing Fernando Alonso by a considerable amount, comments left by seasoned TJ contributors added to the general feeling of mirth and disbelief of the original statement.
Raikkonen’s return to Ferrari has not met any expectations of either the media or his supporters – with his highest finish a seventh after the Australian Grand Prix. Initially he put his troubles down to his driving style but is content with the car in what has proven to be difficult race conditions.
“I’ve been here long enough to know this is how it goes sometimes,” Raikkonen said. “We all want to do better, we don’t want to finish in these kind of positions but I would take this rather than nothing. There’s lots of work to do, we’ve not been happy with things all the time. One day has been good there, one day in another race, but things seem to have been pretty difficult overall. Once we get a bit more knowledge we can work things out but right now it’s not been the easiest races for me but that’s how it goes.”
With his famous indifference to pressure Raikkonen’s struggles have been in stark contrast to Alonso who finished third in China.
“I was pretty happy with the car in Bahrain and in China we had some issues early on and couldn’t run, which didn’t help. It was a difficult weekend but at least I got three points. It is not what I want, but overall for the team it was a better weekend and it gives some good feeling to everyone because we have been working hard to improve things. We have not done as much as we want but Fernando’s podium is good for us as a team.”
Whilst Alonso speaks clearly of what he expects from the team, and pushes for improvements, Raikkonen seems happy with how it’s progressing. Following his early departure from the Bahrain Grand Prix it seems improbable that Luca de Montezemolo shares his employee’s ‘happiness’.
TJ13 usually predicts at this time of year we will see Alonso begin to up his criticism of the Maranello team’s efforts, which unsurprisingly commences around the time of his home GP in Barcelona.
The recruitment of Raikkonen was hoped to provide a challenge for Alonso, and in turn keep him in his box somewhat. It was thought a competitive Kimi would cause Alonso to think twice before stirring the pot and indulging in his annual PR blame game stunts, aimed at those designing and developing the car.
Yet for now, Alonso’s position appears stronger than ever, and there is little chance there will be a gravitation of favour or effort towards the Finn’s side of the garage, unless his results improve dramatically and soon.
Gene Haas postpones Formula One entry to 2016 season
Gene Haas has decided not to enter the 2015 Formula One World Championship. Despite having an entry for next season, he has been advised to postpone entry because the team will have to be built from scratch.
Hass has received heavy criticism from Juan Pablo Montoya, Martin Brundle and Johnny Herbert because of his desire to build the team’s base in North Carolina and have a satellite base in Italy for European races. The challenge will be the recruitment of personnel with formula 1 experience who wish to relocate to the States.
Interesting, Gunther Steiner, who formally headed the Jaguar and Red Bull teams has at present been nominated as Team Principal, though whether this will be a permanent role, is as yet unclear. Steiner reveals, that he will be holding talks with ex-Ferrari boss, Stefano Domenicali. “I have no idea what he’s doing or if he has something but we will certainly talk to him.”
Even as a consultant Domenicali would be able to provide off the record insights into how the negotiations with Maranello should best proceed.
Steiner is set to travel once again with a U.S delegation to revisit contract negotiations with Ferrari, specifically with their new team principal, Marco Mattiacci, because the previous contact talks had been with the departed Stefano Domenicali.
Hopes are high that an accomodation will be reached quickly as Mattiacci was the Ferrari CEO for the last two years and knows the potential of the US market. Discussion will also take place beyond just the supply of a power unit with Dallara providing technical and manufacturing capability.
Gianpaolo Dallara and Andrea Pontremoli, CEO and General Manager for Dallara, are keeping schtum whilst talks are ongoing but it is understood that whilst they would collaborate with Haas if a Ferrari partnership is established, their preferred option is that the car is built by the new team rather than using the Parma manufacturer’s factory.
Further, the name of another ex-F1 senior figure is being linked with Haas, that of Norbert Haug. Whilst both Haug and Domenicali have a wealth of experience, yet for many they may be perceived as men from F1’s yesteryear. This in itself demonstrates how difficult it will be for Haas to capture the top talent currently employed, who are unlikely to be lured by cash alone.
Formula One drivers celebrate Senna’s life
It was probably inevitable that when the organisers of the F1 World Championship calendar discussed the 2014 season, they would have left a suitable period surrounding the 20th anniversary of the death of one of F1’s greatest drivers – Ayrton Senna.
Most media reports have been building up to this period for some time and with many F1 drivers present in Imola over the next few days and a few have shared their memories of the Brazilian.
Nico Rosberg: “Ayrton Senna – there’s an icon of our sport. If you think about Formula One you think about Ayrton Senna – and vice versa. He was one of only a few who have shaped our sport and his death was a huge loss and tragedy.”
Fernando Alonso: “I think Senna is a benchmark for all drivers, the best of his generation. In Spain there wasn’t much F1 on TV back then as there was not the interest in the sport there is now. For me, as a kart racer, I was interested in all motorsport and ever since I was a child his name meant a lot to me.”
Sebastian Vettel: “My dad was a big Senna fan. Born in 1987 I personally don’t remember the first couple of years Ayrton was racing, but the first memory I have of him was when he won his first home GP in Brazil in 1991. He was completely destroyed after the chequered flag – he had lost gears during the race and in the end he had to be lifted up to the podium. Later I was watching F1 races nearly every Sunday, and it was difficult for me as a kid to understand that a racing driver had an accident and died. His death was a big loss to the sport. Unfortunately I never got to know Ayrton. He had lots of races where he was outstanding. He had an incredible talent in the car and seemed to be a very humble and special guy. It seemed that he took this personal side into the car, which probably made him stronger and this is why people remember him so well.”
Valtteri Bottas: “When one thinks of Senna they immediately recall the Rothmans Williams colours and his yellow helmet he wore. He was a giant of a driver and his career was tragically cut short when you consider how much more wining he could have achieved. His professionalism acted like a ‘mentor’ for many drivers, not just for me. He proved to everyone that you continue to work hard and without imposing self-limitations even when you are blessed with a huge talent.”
David Coulthard: “The first memories I have of Ayrton was when I was a kid watching television. What springs immediately to my mind was his qualifying lap in Suzuka in 1988 when he was driving for McLaren: there you really could see how talented he was. Then my mind goes to the time when I worked with him as a test driver – watching him and how precise he was with the engineers taught me a lot. His work ethic really stood out for me. In reality there were two Ayrtons – one in the car and one outside the car. When in the car he was focused, ruthless and dedicated. Outside it he was gentle, giving and precise – there was none of the ruthlessness that he showed when in the car.”
Martin Brundle: “Senna was for many a synonym for qualifying. Seeing him on a qualifying lap – either in your mirrors or from the pit wall – was electrifying: his very distinctive helmet colour and his very distinctive style in the car. He had a gift – a sixth sense – for where the grip on the track was. I’d already realised that in F3, because he seemed to already have that understanding before the corner – not in the middle of the corner or after the corner – of where there was going to be grip. He had that special gift of driving a race car – it was natural for him. I raced against him something over 11 years.
“Once in F3 at Silverstone, it was pouring and I was leading into Stowe and he went down on the outside of me. Stowe was a very fast corner back then and he went so fast on the outside that I thought, ‘Good, he’s crashed I don’t have to fight Senna today’. But he went completely around the outside of the corner and came out in front of me and I was really amazed as he must have found some grip out there. That sums up for me the feel that he had.
“But there was also a great paradox about him – something confusing. He could be so aggressive, as I saw in F3 and in F1 – ready to put his car in a position and leave you to decide if you’re going to have an accident that day. His mentality was to try psychologically to get ahead of you. But then if a driver was having an accident he was the first guy to run back and help them, whether it was Eric Comas or Martin Donnelly… he was the first driver to run out and see after Roland Ratzenberger in Imola. He had that really caring, human side to him which didn’t match his aggression. He could go from the warm caring person to the cold calculating guy within a blink. That I never fully understood. He was religious to some extent… When looking back I feel privileged having raced against him, but back then he was just another driver to beat.
John Watson: “Ayrton Senna did things with a racing car that I’ve seen no other driver do, before or since, and there was an obscene level of horsepower in those days.
There is one memory, one snapshot, that is seared on my memory for life, even though it lasted only two or three seconds. It was early in his career, at Brands Hatch, and he was on one of those bolts of lightning single-lap efforts that he used to put in. When you reach the bottom of Dingle Dell you can’t see the apex of the next corner. You have to anticipate it. Senna was absolutely mesmerising.
It was not only the speed he was carrying but the way he controlled the car, changing gear, turning the steering wheel and using the throttle to keep the turbo boost from dropping away. And remember, we had conventional gears, clutch, brake and throttle in those days.
To do one thing at the speed he was going would have been something but to multitask the way he did was remarkable. I don’t know how he did it to this day. He had this wonderful mental capacity to put a number of inputs into the car at the same time. And he was frighteningly quick. The way he made the car dance on the track that day reminded me of the rain jumping on the street in the title track of ‘Singing in the rain’ It was wonderful.”
Dr Maria Fiandri speaks about Senna’s passing
To commemorate the 20th anniversary of Senna’s passing, various Italian media organisations have run interviews with people who are inextricably linked to the legendary Brazilian’s story. Some are the memories of opponents or engineers who were left dumbfounded by his abilities and others are authors who have written works in celebration of a legacy.
In what would prove to be a traumatic global story – rumours of his condition at Imola have been subject to scrutiny ever since. Gerhard Berger went to the hospital and he was still alive – whereas Bernie Ecclestone had told Senna’s brother, Leonardo, that he was dead. Sid Watkins himself said that whilst he was still alive medically, he knew from the moment he opened his eyelids that he had suffered a massive brain trauma and would not survive much longer.
The Italian newspaper Libero Quotidiano conducted an interview recently with the doctor who was present when Senna “closed his eyes for good.” and who would subsequently announce to the world that Ayrton Senna had died.
Dr. Maria Teresa Fiandri was at home watching the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix with her children when the accident happened. She could tell immediately that it was serious and changed and was on the road before she had even been paged by the Maggiore Hospital in Bologna. She arrived at the same time as the helicopter carrying Senna landed on the grounds.
Q: Twenty-eight minutes after the accident and you are there when Senna was brought in..
“He was in a very deep coma but had a heartbeat. You didn’t have to examine any machines to know that there was little hope. We understood immediately how grave it was and we’d already been de-briefed by Dr Gordini and the doctors who had tended to him at the circuit.”
There was a movement of his head which people at home hoped was a sign of hope?
“Unfortunately, it was a sign of extreme gravity. Then when we saw the readings we understood that the injuries were massive and inoperable. The brain was so damaged … ‘.
Was it the suspension arm which caused the fatal wound?
“I do not know if it was a direct hit or kickback which caused more damage but the arm had caused a deep cut, it was the thing that was noticed immediately; then we saw the skull fractures and from there we decided to do the EEG to see if there was or was not brain activity.”
If it were not for the impact with the tire and the arm what would happen?
“The rest of the body was intact, there were no other major injuries, Ayrton had incredible bad luck. If it had been a mere inch to the right – well, I can not say that nothing would happen, but certainly there was no other significant damage on the body.”
How did Senna look when he arrived at the Maggiore?
“He was nice and peaceful, that was the impression I was left with. Of course, the face was a little swollen due to the trauma but remember there was a woman next to me who exclaimed, “How peaceful he is …’.”
There was something in the destiny of Ayrton …
“Maybe yes, even the things I read about him afterwards left the impression that this was an unfortunate end, almost as if he knew deep down he was destined to die young.”
After trying many different options, the time finally arrived that you had to speak to the press?
“Yes, but we did not have a recognised method for speaking to the press as some reported at the time. It is also not true that we gave Senna 18 blood transfusion. We had seen from the EEG that there was no brain activity and under todays laws he would have been declared dead immediately but 20 years ago, Italian law stated that a person could not be pronounced dead until he entered cardiac arrest and his heart stopped.”
What do you feel today when you see Senna on TV or in the newspapers?
“A strange feeling, affection, as if there was a link. But I never search for his photos because the memory of that day still causes me a lot of emotion. “
Force India, changing of the guard
TJ13 has been critical of Vijay Mallya’s bold claims that he will personally invest $50m into the Force India team. The money never arrived, and the promised wind tunnel has never been built.
However, despite his disasterous finacial affairs back in India, Mallya has recruited a good management team into the Silverstone based outfit – though it is still irksome that the real driving force behind the team, Bob Fernley, is still entitled Deputy team principal, in deference to Vijay.
There are no big bucks being depositied from the team’s owners, and indeed TJ13 reported at the start of the season we expected to see Sahara and it’s flamboyant Rubrata Roy dissapear quietly. The team is now primarily run on it’s funding from FOM and sponsors.
Roy is currently banged up in jail for refusing to comply with an Indian Supreme Court order which requires him to re-imburse millions of ordinary Indians with the $3bn he conned them from, disguised as investments.
In fact, Roy is suffering badly at present. His legal team today petitioned the court for an early hearing to challenge Roy’s current detention, the reason being that the temperatures in recent days have risen dramatically in New Dheli.
“The temperature has risen and the gentleman is not well,” senior advocate Rajiv Dhawan, appearing for Sahara group, told a bench of justices K S Radhakrishnan and J S Khehar. They were unmoved.
The court had imposed a condition that Roy will be freed on bail only if he pays $1bn, of which $500m must be in cash and $500m in bank guarantees. It looks as though Rubrata Roy is in for a long hot summer.
Today, Force India announces a new partnership with Smirnoff.
Vijay Mallya, had this to say, “It’s fantastic to see Smirnoff join the world of Formula One. It’s an iconic, global brand and we welcome them to the Sahara Force India family. As a team we’ve always mixed the highest professionalism on the track with great celebrations away from it and our partnership with Smirnoff reinforces these values. As we continue to make progress on the track, Smirnoff is the ideal brand to help celebrate these moments and open up the sport to new fans.”
All they’re missing is Kimi in the middle of the photo shot.
Matt Bruhn, Smirnoff Global Brand Director, added: “We love Sahara Force India’s story, as well as its ability to help us communicate about responsibility and top quality performance. This team is shaking up how we perceive racing and giving the establishment a real run for its money. We are thrilled to help them bring fans closer to the action and have lots of fun with this energetic, exciting team along the way.”
Smirnoff are of course owned by London based Diageo, who have already acquired 25.00% of Mallya’s United Spirits company in 2013, and demoted the Indian ex-billionaire from his control of the company.
United spirits own the Vladivar brand or vodka, which symbolically has been replaced by Diageo’s internationally well known brand, Smirnoff.
Diageo have further forced Mallya to drop from the car the logo of another United Spirit’s brand, namely that of Whyte and MacKay. This of course is a competitor of Diageo’s own number one global brand of whisky – Johnnie Walker – who have had a partnership with McLaren since 2005.
These events are not merely cosmetic commercial arrangements being re-prioritised. There is a changing of the guard behind the scenes in the Mallya empire, and TJ13 has learned it will not be long before a changing of shareholder arrangements will be announced for the Silverstone based Formula 1 team.
Teams today demand change from Ecclestone
Mr. E will return to court in Munich tomorrow where the prosecution will call their first witness, Hildegard Baumler-Hosl, who has had numerous dealings with the Ecclestone/ Gribkowsky corruption affair dating back several years.
The focus of the evidence will be to demonstrate that Ecclestone’s statements over the $44m payments made to Gribkowsky have in fact been inconsistent over time.
Meanwhile back at the Ecclestone owned airfield, Biggin Hill, the teams meet today to thrash out a number of matters.
Cost cutting is top of the agenda and now the budget cap idea has been canned, the smaller teams are keen to see where headway can be made in other areas.
TJ13 has already reported this will include the standardisation of a significant number of components from 2016 and the banning of complex ‘fric’ suspension systems. Also for consideration will be the simplification of rules relating to brakes, fule and importantly aerodynamics.
Active suspension is set to return in 2017 and paddock curfews are likely to be extended.
Yet the smaller teams have even bigger fish to fry today. TJ13 reported earlier this week that they have engaged the EU commission to ‘monitor’ what they consider to be breaches in European anti-competition laws. “Discrimination against any single team would on the face of it seem to be an abuse of a dominant position,” was cited as a specific breach in the letter to Jean Todt written by Marrussia, Force India, Caterham and Sauber.
These teams are furious at their exclusion from the newly formed F1 strategy group, which by stealth appears to be now responsible for writing the sporting regulations of Formula 1.
It appears Bob Fernley and his modern day band of ‘garigistes’ have tickled someone’s interest in Brussels as today the Telegraph contains a statement from the EU commission”. “The Commission is following developments in the sports sector, including in Formula One, and monitors compliance with EU competition rules.”
The commission ran an investigation into F1 some years ago, but appeared to give up due to the evasiveness of then FIA president Max Mosley and Bernie Ecclestone.
Should the present monitoring become another investigation, any hope CVC have of floating the shares of F1 will be gone – for what for them is nigh on ever.
So Bob, builder of fast cheaper cars and his merry men insist upon being heard and have managed to gate crash the F1 Strategy Group’s party, who are clearly in fear of EU sanction.
F1 calendar – OMG
Azerbaijan will announce imminently they have a deal to host an F1 event. “We have signed the deal with Bernie Ecclestone and will announce it officially with an event in Baku shortly,” says Azerbaijan sports minister Azad Rahimov.
TJ13 and our readers have poked fun at the idea, for months yet Baku who will host the European games next summer, are now a serious contender for the F1 calendar.
Azerbaijan are ranked equal with Russia as highly corrupt countries by Transparency International who say, “The Corruption Index 2013 serves as a reminder that the abuse of power, secret dealings and bribery continue to ravage societies around the world.
The Index scores 177 countries and territories on a scale from 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean). No country has a perfect score”.
The score attributed to Russia and Azerbaijan is 28, the lowest of any F1 hosting nations. This ranks them 127 out of the 177 countries included, though the proposed F1 hosts have improved their ‘corruption ranking’ – unlike Russia – from 27 to 28 in one year.
China is the next lowest ranked F1 hosting nation at position 80, with Italy one step up the ladder in position 69.
Not that these things matter to F1 who are still planning to head to Sochi until forces far bigger than Bernie, Todt et al put a stop to F1 providing free PR to Putin. Either that, or Russia will have to defer to certain demands from the International Community.
With the exception of F1 joint owners Singapore, who are the least corrupt of the F1 host nations in position 5 of the league, its interesting that the countries with the least public cash for F1 are Australia, Canada, Germany and the United Kingdom – all ranked between 9 and 14 on Transparency International’s list.
Is there a correlation between nations prepared to blow ridiculous amounts of public money to line the pockets of Ecclestone and CVC with exorbitant hosting fees, and the levels of public corruption therein?
Having examined the list, Ecclestone’s desperate global trot for ever more cash means F1 is finding new bedfellows, who are not so strange after all.
The way the game should be played
The Brazilian soccer club SC Corinthians has contributed to the worldwide commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the death of Formula 1 legend Ayrton Senna. In a cup match, which took place at the opponent Nacional Manaus on Wednesday night, before kick off the players all donned racing helmets of the Senna design.